Friday, May 15, 2009

An idea for Calculus Made Easy

In that post by Darren Kuropatwa, he embeds a version of a book called, "Calculus Made Easy." I'm not going to embed it here, as you should really check out his blog in person. He also provides a link to where you can download a copy of the book if you'd prefer.

Here's what I'm thinking. End of the year. Kids have already taken the AP Calc test and are dreaming of college life. What if you were to provide each student with a copy of the ebook, then pair them up. Maybe even give each team a different chapter. Their task is to review that chapter and report back with whether or not they think that the book does indeed make it easier to understand, and why. With examples.

Of course, having completed the class, some concepts will make perfect sense and therefore seem like it is easier. But, remind them to try to think back to a time before they knew the material. Would this approach have helped? Would it have skipped something important? Give specific examples.

I think it would be very interesting to have the kids talking about Calculus that way. Wouldn't it be fun to hear a discussion that might say, "I don't think you should skim over this part about ______ because when they start to ______ later they will really need to know this part." I think this would make a really good exercise for a day or two.

Yes? No?


Dan Callahan said...

To me it would make even more sense to look at the ebook in tandem with the regular textbook. I'd be personally annoyed if I could have found out a way to do something in an easier fashion 6 months ago, as opposed to after I struggled through it.

Jim Gates said...

Well, part of the discussion would have to be, "Does it only seem easier now that you've got all the context?" And, WHY do you say it's easier this way? I want to hear what they have to say about why this method is easier. I want them to use the vocabulary. I want them to put these ideas in the larger context.

I doubt that the kids would care too much if they saw what they thought was an easier way to learn something. I really think that they would just be proud of what they have learned.

I wonder... What do the rest think? Would the kids be really upset about it?